Tomorrow I go to my second mammogram, ever. I’m not thrilled about the whole thing, but know it’s necessary. This past year, I had a friend diagnosed with breast cancer, undergo a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. This was a huge kick in my ass, making me realize that this could happen to anyone at anytime. I’ve decided to re-post a blog about my whole virgin experience from last year, with a promise to blog about tomorrow’s experience later.
A day in the life of my boobs. You know you want to read this!
Originally posted in October, 2011
I’m an official Mammy Grad!
Today was a huge milestone for me. Not only because of what was taking place, but because what it represents. When planning out my life, there were a few things I didn’t exactly “pencil-in” on the agenda. But then reality walked up and slapped me in the face.
Yes, I am officially 40 and officially of “advanced age.” I’m sorry, but when the hell did this ‘officially’ fucking happen?!
Yes, I’ve paid the co-pay to more doctors and blood clinics in the past year than I wish to mention. But I already have, through the fabulous world of social media and my dumbass big mouth. So why stop now.
Yes, I actually showed up for this particular event, which I’ve been dreading for months, continually repeating the reassuring words of those who have gone before me. Much like childbirth, the horror stories could throw your fear factor into complete paralysis. But what is inevitable is…inevitable.
The inevitable occurred this morning, much to my contempt. To calm these internal fears screaming in my head, I felt the need of a grande pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks ASAP. I know, caffeine + neurosis = total train wreck. But with me, this is a lifestyle. My husband will attest.
After obtaining my 16 ounces of liquid love, I spent several moments driving around with a slightly confused GPS system, guided by a pleasant Anglo-Saxon voice, telling me to “turn left here, turn right here, continue down the road 6.2 miles to destination, make a U-Turn now (WTF?)” when in all actuality my desired location was just across the street from that particular Starbucks. Yea, still not quite sure where that GPS bitch was trying to send me to, but I had enough smarts to figure out she was soooooo wrong.
NOTE TO SELF: Write a note to Garmin stating that their product is total shit. Exclamation!
Once in the lobby, the calming environment surprised me. Fireplace in one corner, gorgeous green plants in the other, relaxing yoga music playing over the speaker system, pleasant receptionist to greet me. ‘Hummm, this must be a facade’ I initially thought. Once they get you in the back, they blindfold you, strip you naked and mercilessly gut you like a pig.
Ah-ha! I’m on to them (Insert wiggly eyebrow here.)
After filling out and signing endless paperwork that I never really thoroughly read anyway, I sat back, closed my eyes and finished the remainder of my latte. Deep breathes, in and out. Om shanti. A few minutes later, a petite, gentle looking radiologist in her 60’s (guessing) came into the lobby asking for me. Once I confirmed who I was, she shook my hand and I noticed that her glance went quickly from my eyes to my boobs.
I can only assume she was trying to quickly assess what she was about to work with. Regardless, it was…weird. Anyway, she showed me to the softly lit locker room, briefly explained what the procedure would entail, handed me a cape and requested I strip from the waist-up. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve sworn I was at Mario Tricoci preparing for a Swedish massage. Damn these people are good!
Once in the exam room, she showed me “The Machine.” As I’m standing, I would gently place each breast on a flat grey plate, as another clear plate came down to ‘compressed’ the tissue. “It may take your breath away at first, but it won’t last long.” she explains. Oh great, so is this her special lingo for ‘this is going to hurt, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.’ The cape was quickly thrown back and it was Show Time! Before you could say ‘Slap A Duck’, Mama Radiologist had my right breast in her bare hand, placing it on the examination plate and positioning it as needed, as if a piece of Play-Dough. Usually before something like this happens, I’ve been wined and dined, so this is new. Turn here, lean forward, put your right arm on this angle, put your left arm here, raise your chin, tilt to the right, shift to the left….ok, and now don’t move or breathe until I tell you to.
Are you friggin’ kidding me?! Um, ok…deep breath in…
Mama Radiologist quickly stepped behind a reinforced wall and pushed a button, dropping the above clear plate that would quickly become a vice on my chest. I let out a gasp. Rapid x-ray pulses filled that air. The pain from this contraption digging into my ribcage the worst, but before I was allowed to go to my Happy Place, it was over. The plate was magically lifted and I could breath again. Then Mama Radiologist exclaims, “Ok, now I need to get a side view.”
Fuck. There’s more?!
So once again, my (already traumatized) right boob was pushed, shoved and molded into the necessary position to ensure proper placement. Out of nowhere, she compliments my gold ballet flats. ‘Thank you, got them from Target last summer blahblahblah.” Trying to create small talk while holding my breast is really not necessary, but thanks for the complement.
So then Mama Radiologist runs behind her Wall of Steel and pushed her button, allowing the procedure happen once again, but from the oh-so-more-sexy side angle. Yea, this was not much better, and added a whole new level to that oh-so-uncomfortable feeling. After confirming her happiness with the results from the right breast, it’s time to invite the left breast to the party. Whoopwhoop! At this point, I’m looking over my shoulder for someone – anyone – to offer me a shot of whiskey at this point. And I don’t even drink whiskey. Do the math.
All of the above is repeated on the left side, nothing more, nothing less. Can I get my gold star and go home now?!
She had me sit while she reviewed the pictures on the big screen, which actually were quite fascinating. Suddenly, my breasts became a mountain of complex veins that honestly resembled a road map. And no matter what route you choose to go, all roads led to Nippletown. Huh. Who knew?!
After Mama gave me her seal of approval, I was released and allowed to throw on my street clothes. Once I got to my car, I sighed a deep breath of relief. I successfully popped this cherry and was ready to go home to hug my kids. This, too, has ended. Nothing more, nothing less. Worse things have happened, and I’ve survived them all. Now to await the results.
Throughout all my anxiety and bitching, I know that this procedure is for the best, for my own health and well-being. Goodness knows that I’m nowhere near completing what I’ve been put on this Earth to do. I’ve got kids to raise, a husband to torture, friends to haunt and a blogosphere to conquer. A few moments of uncomfortableness is totally worth another 40 years of life.